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Development of a targeted foot complications screening and intervention program for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people

PhD thesis by Matthew West

Following on from Matthew’s honours project, this PhD will consist of three phases with the aim of informing policy through the creation of a custom podiatry program that meets the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The first phase is a clinical audit of existing public health services to explore current attempts to meet community demand. Local health districts and public health podiatry programs will be compared to public health diabetes programs to assess if there is adequate representation between services. This will then lend itself to phase two, part A, which is focused around community consultation, a survey-based assessment that seeks to understand, from the community’s point of view, what obstacles to care exist and potential strategies to overcome them. Phase two, part B, is a clinician survey that enquires about the clinicians’ perception of obstacles to patient care. With an understanding of what and how services are currently being accessed and the professional and community response to how they might be improved, phase three involves the development of a pilot program to examine the effectiveness of a podiatry program post consultation.


Matthew is a Wiradjuri man currently living and working on the central coast of New South Wales. In 2013, he graduated from the University of Newcastle with a Bachelor of Podiatry. In 2015, Matthew completed his honours by research focusing on how his local community currently accesses podiatry services. This provided insight to how lower limb health outcomes might be improved

Matthew has always had a strong sense of responsibility to serve his local community. This has grown as he continued with his studies and came to better understand the vast health inequalities that exist between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians. He was the first person to successfully complete the Central Coast Indigenous health cadetship program from an allied health discipline and worked his graduate year in the Central Coast Local Health District. This allowed Matthew the opportunity to develop his skills before starting a podiatry service at local Aboriginal Medical Service. During his graduate year, Matthew also worked closely with other stakeholders to coordinate an outreach podiatry screening program at their community NAIDOC event, which he has continued doing each following year. In 2013, Matthew’s efforts to better the health of his local community was recognised by Indigenous Allied Health Australia with the Inaugural Future Leader in Indigenous Allied Health Award.

This strong commitment to improving community health outcomes has guided Matthew’s career and research so that he can hopefully contribute to a better understanding of how meaningful positive change can be pursued and achieved to close the health gap health between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and non-Indigenous Australians in his lifetime.

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Created: 05 September 2016 - Updated: 19 December 2017